Role of Expert Witness
Date: 05 May 2023
In construction projects, an expert witness plays a critical role in providing evidence and impartial opinion about an extension of time claim. An extension of time claim is made when a contractor requests additional time to complete work beyond the contract completion date, due to unforeseen delays that were not the contractor's fault.
When seeking an extension of time claim, the role of an expert witness is to provide objective, expert evidence on the nature and extent of the delays and their impact on the contractor's ability to complete the work on time. The expert witness usually has extensive knowledge, skills, and experience in the relevant field, and they are commonly appointed to provide impartial expert advice relating to delay analysis, construction programming, or construction management practices.
The expert witness will examine the available project information, such as schedules and contemporaneous records like site diaries, meeting minutes etc. to assess whether the contractor's delay was excusable, compensable, and whether it impacted the construction schedule. They may also evaluate the cause and responsibility of the delays, if any.
The expert witness will analyse the project schedule and other relevant information to determine the critical path of the schedule, the activity durations, and their inter-relationships. They will also assess the impact of the events that caused or prolonged the delay, determine how long the delay lasted, its effect on the project, and the appropriate form of relief.
The outcome of the expert witness report will provide evidence to support or defend the extension of time claim, thereby help the third party to determine whether the contractor is entitled to recover compensation for the additional costs incurred due to the delay. Therefore, the expert witness's role is significant to help parties involved in construction disputes come to a fair resolution.